Just over two years on from Battering Ram and the venerable – and always reliable – Saxon return with album number 22! Between regularly putting out new music and touring their arses off, these NWOBHM overlords put bands a third of their age to shame with their work ethic and the sheer quality of their output….and Thunderbolt is no exception!
While there are no major surprises with Thunderbolt – it’s a latter day Saxon album through and through which, if you’re a fan, (and if not, why not?), means you’re in for a treat – and while there’s nothing to rival the speed of “Sacrifice” or “Atila The Hun”, fear not because there’s still a bevy of fist pumping British heavy metal anthems on display, all with more hooks than a bunch of cenobytes on the hunt for new flesh!
Starting off with a short intro “Olympus Rising”, the album really kicks off with the rousing title track and the quality never dips. “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” is all mid paced riffing, with some tasty keyboards during the chorus and brings to mind “Queen Of Hearts”, while “Sons Of Odin” sees Biff indulge his love of mythology with suitably epic results.
Thunderbolt‘s strongest moment though is the Motorhead tribute “They Played Rock and Roll”, which takes on an even more poigniant tone with news of Fast Eddie Clarke’s passing whilst working on this review. Compared to Metallica’s frankly abysmal “Murder One”, this is a humdinger of a tune replete with a bellicose riff straight from the Phil Campbell playbook, and stands as a fitting tribute to their good friends.
But where does Thunderbolt rank in Saxon’s humungous back catalogue?
Truth is, it’s too soon to say.
What is certain, is that these metal heavyweights have kept their unbeatable winning streak going with yet another fine collection of songs….and Thunderbolt is an album that’s guarenteed to keep the denim and leather clad hordes happy for another two years! 8/10